Like other states, Tennessee has laws in place in case a person dies without a will and has property in her estate.
These intestate laws also apply if the only available will gets invalidated in a will contest or simply does not effective address of all the deceased person’s property.
The person’s surviving spouse has priority under Tennessee’s laws
Tennessee law favors a deceased person’s surviving spouse. By way of example, if the deceased person has no children from any relationship, his widow will receive all of the estate’s probate assets.
On the other hand, if the person who died has any children from any relationship, then the surviving spouse will often claim 1/3 of her estate, that is, the minimum to which a surviving spouse is entitled in these circumstances. He may be entitled to more if, for example, he only has 1 child.
As a practical matter, if a resident of Madison County wants to leave all property to his or her spouse and has children, he or she will want to create a will to specify that.
For unmarried Tennessee residents, succession can be complicated
For those who die without a will and who are not legally married, the estate gets divided equally between the person’s children. If one of her children died previously, the that child’s descendants get to split the child’s share.
For a person who dies unmarried and without children, the process of dividing the estate can be quite complicated and will potentially involve the person’s parents, siblings and extended relatives.
The complication aside, it is important to recognize that Tennessee’s intestate laws do not have any consideration for how close a deceased person was with a relative. Likewise, a person’s close friends, companions and favorite causes will receive nothing unless the person engaged in estate planning.